I’ve been hearing about the powers of mushroom extracts for a while now (Gwyneth Paltrow’s super smoothie anyone?) so was interested to give one of these powders a try. Including mushrooms varieties into our diet (so long as they’re edible!) is useful nutritionally, as they contain different compounds and nutrients to other aspects of our diet, being fungi rather than plants. Chaga is thought to be especially rich in health-boosting compounds, being dubbed the “king of mushrooms” in parts of Russia and Siberia where the mushroom has been used for many years. It is found on mature birch trees throughout the Northern Hemisphere, so you can actually go foraging for it. Luckily, it is also widely available in a variety of forms, including powder, which I received from Indigo Nutrition. What I like about Indigo Nutrition’s products is that they are from mushrooms harvested in Scotland and Estonia rather than from all four corners of the globe.
I was surprised to find that the chaga extract has a pleasantly malty taste and smell to it; I was expecting something much more pungent. Mixed with nothing but hot water, the chaga “tea” makes a great alternative to a cuppa or a coffee, so I decided to blend it with chai spices for a warming drink that can be enjoyed year-round. To make the chai tea warm, add all the spices to the milk and leave in the fridge at least overnight, and either add the chaga powder to drink cold, or gently heat to just below 40 degrees before drinking.
Chaga Chai Tea – Ingredients
- 1 cup almond or oat milk
- 8 cardamon pods, crushed beneath a knife
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Half a vanilla pod, seeds removed (reserve and use for baking or making almond milk!)
- 1 star anise
- 1/2-1 tsp chaga powder*, to taste
- Optional: honey, maple syrup or other sweetener